This post is sponsored by the Washington County, AR fair, so I’m totally getting paid to write about this end-of-summer event. Some of the safety tips are things I do with my own children. Stay safe, everyone. #myWCF15

The clanging of amusement park rides at the end of summer.The smell of blacktop and funnel cakes. Deep fried…anything: County fairs bring out childlike excitement in me.

When this year’s Washington County Fair in Arkansas opens a few miles from where I live, thousands of people will pile through the gates for a grand time. Whether sampling delicious fair food, checking out the bountiful harvest in Arkansas, or rounding the rides on the midway—the fair has enough variety for everyone in the family to have a whole lot of fun.

The people who run the fair, along with local law enforcement, also want to make sure your family stays safe with a little bit of prep and a few guidelines.

Lt. John Moore with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department is in charge of fair security and has worked the fair for many years. He stresses how important it is for parents to keep a close eye on their children at any large event. Attractions, rides, and food draw children from their parents’ side, tempting little ones to wander away among the crowds.

Washington County, Arkansas fair, Washington County Fair, Captain Mom, Rhonda Franz

Before the Fair

Make sure your children know your phone number. Whichever mobile phone number is the most often used is the best number for children to memorize. If you don’t have a mobile phone, teach children your home phone number.

I have my boys practice saying my phone number out loud every once in a while. We’ve even made a little tune that makes remembering it easier. If they can memorize 114 songs and recite a slew of sports statistics, they can learn a phone number.

Lt. Moore recommends making sure young children know your name—not “Mommy” or “Daddy”—your real name, first and last. When law enforcement has a phone number and the name of a parent, getting a child back to parents is much simpler.

During the Fair

1. Have young children walk beside you or in front of you. Many children have been temporarily lost because they were walking behind their parents. Moms and Dads, this means we’ll have to hold back and walk at a bit of a slower pace than usual for really small kids. Not always easy, I know.

2. After seeing your child get on a ride, wait at the ride’s exit to meet him as he comes out. Seems standard, but it’s a big deal. It’s kind of a free-for-all when kiddos get off a ride, isn’t it?

3. If you lose sight of your child at a large event, it’s important to stay where YOU are. Most children are found within the same general area where they were last seen. Lt. Moore said that the number one mistake parents make is leaving the area to search for their child. If possible, leave an adult in the area and let another adult find one of the law enforcement officers who are walking the midway from late afternoon to evening.

This was good for me to hear. I’ve taught my children to stay where they are if they notice I’m not around, but it didn’t occur to me that I should do the same.

Keep an eye on the kiddos at the fair. Take a photo before going in to any large event so you have an immediate accurate description of your child.

Keep an eye on the kiddos at the fair. Take a photo before going in to any large event so you have an immediate accurate description of your child.

4. Be able to provide an accurate description of what your child is wearing. Type of hat, shorts or pants, colors: all of it. An easy solution is to line your children up before going in and taking their picture with your smartphone. If they get separated from you, you have immediate access to their image to share with law enforcement.

A few tips for parents of older children and teenagers:

  • Take into consideration your child’s age and maturity if they are attending the fair without you. Most children need some sort of supervision by a responsible adult.
  • No one should be hanging around when the fair is closing up. As the midway shuts down and attractions start closing, it’s time to leave.

Lt. Moore encourages visitors to come by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office command post, located next to the fair office on the fairgrounds, and say hello to their officers during the fair.

For more information and to keep up with announcements

Fair dates: September 1 to September 5

Washington County Fair website

Ticket information

The Washington County Fair is all over social media.  #myWCF15

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